Cramps. Cravings. We have enough to deal with every month — intimate exposure to toxic chemicals shouldn’t be one of them.

If there’s one natural product all women should consider swapping in, tampons are it (discover why here). Amy Ziff, founder of MADE SAFE, is talking to us about two chemicals — dioxins and furans — commonly found in feminine care products, what they do and how we can steer clear.

What Are DIoxins + Furans?

In order for conventional feminine care products like pads and tampons to get that pristine white look, materials are bleached with chlorine compounds. Dioxins (polychlorinated dibenzodioxins) and furans (polychlorinated dibenzofurans) are byproducts of that bleaching process and often remain in the material fibers. Most tampons are made with rayon and/or cotton. With conventional pads, the absorbent material is made from rayon, wood pulp, or super absorbent polymers (SAPs).

Both dioxins and furans are persistent (that means they don’t break down readily in the environment) and bioaccumulate (meaning they build up in our bodies).

What’s The Concern?

Dioxin and furan exposures have been linked to cancer, reproductive harm and hormone disruption.[1] One 2002 study found dioxins and furans in four out of four brands of tampons tested.[2] While the levels were low, this study didn’t account for one critical fact: Vaginal tissue is some of the most absorptive skin on women’s bodies.

Consider this fact: Doctors are increasingly administering hormone treatments vaginally because the drug can be transferred directly into the bloodstream without being metabolized, the way it would if taken orally. When given vaginally, the levels of the drug in the body can be 10-80 times higher than when given orally.[3]

And here’s one more fact: Women use pads and tampons for several days at a time on a monthly basis for decades. We need more research on the impact to women’s health of this repeat exposure to bioaccumulative chemicals linked to serious harm.

The bottom line: Exercise precaution. These chemicals have no business in feminine care products.

How To Avoid Them

Because pads and tampons are regulated as ‘medical devices,’ there’s no government requirement that ingredients are disclosed, which makes it harder to avoid chemicals you’re concerned about.

However, the good news is that you can now find the MADE SAFE seal on feminine care products from two brands: Natracare, and Organyc.

Also look for chlorine-free or unbleached pads and tampons and always buy from companies that list all ingredients on the label, even though it’s not required.

[1] DeVito, MJ and Schecter, A. (2002) Exposure assessment to dioxins from the use of tampons and diapers. Environmental Health Perspectives, Vol. 110, No. 1, pp:23- 28. Jan. 2002.
[2] DeVito, MJ and Schecter, A. (2002) Exposure assessment to dioxins from the use of tampons and diapers. Environmental Health Perspectives, Vol. 110, No. 1, pp:23- 28. Jan. 2002.
[3] Tourgeman D.E., Gentzchein E., Stanczyk F.Z., Paulson R.J., Serum and tissue hormone levels of vaginally and orally administered estradiol. American Journal of Obstetrics and Gynecology. Volume 180, Issue 6, pp: 1480-1483. June 1999.

The Chalkboard Mag and its materials are not intended to treat, diagnose, cure or prevent any disease. 
All material on The Chalkboard Mag is provided for educational purposes only. Always seek the advice of your physician or another qualified healthcare provider for any questions you have regarding a medical condition, and before undertaking any diet, exercise or other health related program. 

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